Sunday, December 28, 2008

Happy Blah Blah to me

Today is my birthday. And it's a milestone birthday which means that it's depressing. Ok, not depths of despair depressing, but depressing in that I have to face reality that I'm getting older.

Aren't I supposed to be wiser or something when I'm older? I certainly don't feel it. In fact, I was playing the game, "Are you smarter than a fifth grader?" and realized that nope, I'm not. Especially in science and math.

Then I thought about how being wise isn't necessarily about being book smart. Life experiences teach us a lot, right? So, why do I do dumb things like not bring sunglasses to a country ruled by sun?

So, I've decided that wisdom is for other people. It's wasted on the youth anyway and since I don't want to admit that I'm getting old, then it would be wasted on me.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

I'm tired and blah

I was thinking about how people always put on a "happy" face in public. We tend to not show any negative feelings (unless in extreme circumstances--like when the Colts lose). And I was thinking about how people's personal blogs lean towards the happy topics. After all, who wants to read a bunch of negative Nellie's thoughts?

But, I'm breaking from that tradition. Partly because I just like being a rebel. And partly because the reality of life is that not every day is a Glorious Utopia type of day.

I'm sad. And hurt. And confused. And tired. About a lot of things that I will not go into, but just know that I just don't want to deal with people or things right now. And that's just not an option. Why can't we just spend a week inside a secluded area and have absolutely no one to call us, nag us, worry about us, think about us? I just want some time alone to suck my thumb, snuggle into my blankie, and escape from reality.

Instead, I go to work and put on my happy face. I talk to people when they call me and sound excited for life. I still shop and eat and pay my bills. But I don't want to.

And although I'm excited to go to Mexico for Christmas, there is a part of me that wishes I could use that time to just hide in my house, watch reruns of Friends, eat Oreo cookies, and turn off the phone. But if I did that, then I would be 50 pounds heavier, living in the past, and saying to everyone, "How you doin'?"

So, I'll continue with my happy face in public. But, I just don't have the energy for posting on a blog. I have some ideas for blog posts. Maybe I'll use the time in Mexico to work on those in preparation for the new year.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Hawaii--the finale

I was sad to leave Hawaii. I'm not sure if I could live there--very expensive. Food, housing, gas, everything was more expensive that the 48 states. But, to vacation was fantastic. Here are some final pictures to warm us during the cold December.

Hawaii is known as the land of rainbows. It rained every day we were there. But the difference is that it was sunny also. After the rain ends, about 10-15 minutes, the rainbows can be seen. Here's a great one right above the place we stayed. You could usually see the full rainbow, although I found it difficult to capture on film.

We visited the only palace in America. Hawaii was once a monarchy and a beautiful palace was built sometime in 1800. Unfortunately, no pictures were allowed.

We also visited the Dole Plantation. Wow, I never knew that pineapples could taste so sweet and different. I thought pineapples came in pineapple flavor. But, there are different varieties with slightly different flavors.

Pineapples don't grow on trees (as I thought--I'm such a Hoosier hick). It grows from a fern like stiff plant.

Have you seen "Little Shop of Horrors?" Here's Audrey III...E. is feeding it, LOL! This is actually a pineapple.

Is this not the coolest tree you've ever seen? It reminded me of something from a Dr. Seuss book. It's called a Rainbow Tree, for obvious reasons.

Aww, don't we look sweet? Friends since the beginning days of college and we still like each other. This was taken at the Dole Plantation...they had a botanical garden there with lots of plants and things that are indigenous to the area. Shortly after this picture was taken, her 10 year old daughter fell into the pond behind us and hurt her knee pretty badly. There was lots of blood and tears. The employees were so nice and kind to us after that. We got a lot of free things including the tour, pineapple ice cream, and gifts. Girlie got so much free, fun stuff, I was looking for a pond to fall into.

On the last day of vacation, my friend got stung/bit/attacked by a Portuguese Man o'War. I'm sure she won't appreciate me telling the story, but it's too funny not to share. She and her husband went snorkeling when she was stung. She didn't know what happened...she just knew something was on her arm and now her arm hurt very badly. The locals said that it was probably a jellyfish and that vinegar or urine would help take away the pain. So, her husband bravely stood up to rescue his fair maiden. She made him go into the bathroom with a cup to do his deed. As he was pouring his "rescue" on her arm, the kids kept saying, "Ooo! It's frothy!" and all she felt was really warm liquid. It was disgusting to her, so she kept chanting, "It's's beer..."

By the way, her pain didn't go away. Once she got home, she did some research and found out that she had an allergic reaction and that urine and vinegar (which she used as well) made it worse.

And so we come to the end of our tropical vacation. I really enjoyed Hawaii...I would go again. And I would recommend it to anyone.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Hawaii Part 4

While we were at the PCC, they had a nighttime show. It was so much fun to see traditional dancing from the various Pacific Island cultures. My favorite was the Maori men (they make faces as they dance to "scare" their enemies) and the Tahitian women (they are the traditional shake-your-hips hula dancers).

Here's a video of our Maori warriors.

Here's a video of some fancy hip shaking. I could not take my eyes of these women's hips. Holy cow can those women do that for a long time!

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Hawaii Part 3

The other 2 places I wanted to visit were the Temple and the Polynesian Cultural Center (PCC). Here is the Lai'e Temple (pronouned "la ee aa"). I have to say, this is one of the most beautiful temples I've seen. We didn't go inside as we had kids who were too young to go inside, so we just enjoyed the outside.

The missionaries there at the visitors center were couples or sisters. The sisters who serve a Hawaii mission all take turns at the temple. They wear those long flowery dresses (as you picture Hawaiian women wearing) with flowers in their hair. Actually, many women wear flowers behind their ear everywhere you go.

We visited the Temple on the 12th birthday of my friend's son. This pic is of my friend's girls (and her mom's hand--LOL) in the area right behind the temple. There was an area that was created by the trees and they had some benches there. It was secluded and a perfect place for his father and grandfather to ordain him to the office of deacon, which they did. What a wonderful experience. So incredible to be ordained in such a sacred and beautiful setting. I was happy to be a part of that moment.

Here's another shot of the trees in the secluded area behind the temple. The interesting about these trees are, you are looking at their roots. Their roots grow DOWN to the ground and once they bury themselves into the ground, another tree grows. The roots/branches then entwine themselves and forms a twisty looking tree.

After the temple, we visited the PCC. Actually, the PCC, BYU-Hawaii, and the temple are all right next to each other. The church owns quite a bit of land there in Lai'e and uses it to house their educational and ecclesiastical institutions.

Here we are learning a hula dance. The hula is actually sign language put to music. Each action has a meaning. Our hula dance is telling the story of a woman in love and welcoming her lover back from across the ocean. Notice the girly in pink of front? That's one of ours and her face is hilarious--"am I doing this right?" I just look goofy--I was imagining what all of us looked like--including the men shaking their hips.

The PCC is set up to a living museum which demonstrates the culture of the people from the Pacific Islands. Cultures including Hawaiians, Maori (New Zealand), Tongon, Samoa, etc. are demonstrated by BYU students and others. This man was hilarious. He is Samoan and demonstrated how to open and drink the juice from a coconut. He chose our newest deacon as a "volunteer" to partake of the juice. E. was less than excited to try this and his face was hilarious.

A little bit of trivia--when a coconut is opened, the juice inside is just that--juice. It is not milk. Coconut milk is obtained by scraping out the meat of the nut and then squeezing that. I had never had fresh coconut and found that it actually doesn't even taste like coconut! It reminded me of a meaty type of nut such as Macadamia or hazelnut. The flavor is very mild.

And I tried poi. Poi is made from the tarrot root which is quite a bit like a sweet potato, except it's purple. Poi is made by pounding the tarrot and then cooking it (boiling, baking, etc.). Tarrot raw is not able to be eaten--it has to be cooked. They had samples and it had the consistency of a thick applesauce. The flavor is very bland...until the aftertaste hits. Then it is very, very sweet. I found it pleasant to eat, although I don't know what I would eat with it. The Hawaiians eat it with dinners as almost a condiment for their meat, veggies, or rice.

We ate at the PCC for a traditional luau. There were tons of food and it was very, very good. I think my favorite was the "Lomi Lomi Salmon." It's raw salmon with soy sauce, ginger, and other ingredients. It's very good and doesn't taste like raw salmon (I love sushi). The roasted pork was yummy as well. They had one dessert that was...well...just gross. It was some kind of coconut pudding--the texture was like a Jello Jiggler.

They had entertainment for us as we ate and invited all the kiddos up on stage to participate in a hula. We made our youngest members to go--they didn't look too excited to be in front of hundreds of people.

Next stop, traditional Pacific Island dancing.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Hawaii Part 2

There were only 3 places that I absolutely insisted on seeing. Thankfully, the same 3 places were on everyone's mind. One of those places was Pearl Harbor.

This is the memorial that is built over the Arizona. For those who don't know any history, the Arizona was a ship that was sunk by the Japanese and we lost over 1100 lives with that ship alone. Many of the men who died on the Arizona remain in the ship below the surface.

At one end of the memorial is a wall which lists the names of the lost men. Many of those who survived Pearl Harbor have asked that upon their death that their remains be buried alongside their comrades. There are several urns placed along the wall of some of these men.

As soon as you step onto the national landmark, you feel a sense of loss and grief for these men who gave their lives. Everyone speaks in whispers and are very respectful.

The Arizona continues to leak oil...some 60 years after the attack. I'm not sure how much or how long it will continue to leak. But, it's disturbing to think that after 60+ years that this ship continues to "live" as it leaks its lifeblood into the ocean. I couldn't get my video uploaded that shows the oil actually ascending to the surface.

This is the Missouri ("Mighty Mo"), the site of the Japanese surrender to General MacArthur in 1945. It's pretty impressive when you're on board. Those guns are HUGE. And did you know that this same ship was used in the Gulf War? They outfitted her with Tomahawk missiles and some other impressive combat weapon (can you tell that I don't know much about weaponry?). The thing that impressed me with this was that this ship was so powerful during the Gulf War, that she could fire and pound our enemies from so far away that they couldn't discern where the bombardment was originating.

They have some bomb thing and flags from all 50 states next to the ship. Here I am standing next to the Indiana state flag (the blue one with the torch directly to my right).

A couple of thoughts before we leave Pearl Harbor. Many tours were given while we were there. We did a self-tour and at one point, we were overrun by a Japanese tour group. Never before did I wish I could speak Japanese so badly. I wondered how the history was recited for these tourists. After all, history is written by the victors. As we toured, everywhere you looked or heard, the American soldiers were being lauded and praised. And the Japanese were depicted as enemies who plotted and executed a heinous act.

Finally, I was struck by the patriotism shown by all Americans who toured here. Many of the tourists were obviously military (haircuts and uniforms give them away). I have always been proud to be an American. And as I visited this site, I was impressed again that although beaten, Americans do not give up. We rally to the cause and fight the good fight.

I'm proud to be an American!

Monday, December 1, 2008

Hawaii Part 1


Finally! I'm posting some pics of Hawaii. First, let me say that Hawaii is fabulous! The beaches are clean and lovely, the water clear and warm, the people friendly, and the weather, although humid, still fantastic.

One of the cool things about Hawaii is that it's obviously a part of the United States, but there is a foreign culture feel to it. Hawaiian and Japanese are spoken almost as much as English.

I flew into Honolulu on the island of Oahu on September 27 and we left on October 5. I went with my best friend from college and her family--husband, 5 children, and her parents. We stayed at a military recreational place (her husband is in the military) and it was right on the beach. That opening picture is from our place where we stayed. Isn't that just awesome?

We would get up in the morning and if nothing was planned for the day, we went to the beach (a 30 second walk) and played. The kids enjoyed boogie boarding. We went snorkeling. I enjoyed just laying on the beach and listening to the waves. Ahhh. Love, love that sound.

I had just climbed Diamond Head, a volcano (literally) and this is a picture of Waikiki from the top. Notice my red face? That's not the's from exertion. Whew! That was a climb! The trail included climbing over rocks, long staircases, and squeezing through a tunnel like contraption.

This is another picture from the top of the volcano. That's the crater and you can see the parking lot and part of the trail.

Isn't that just beautiful? I absolutely love lighthouses (anyone who's been to my house notices that first off) and was so delighted to see Diamond Head Lighthouse.

I can't remember the name of this place. This was another hike that we went on. Where the Diamond Head hike was very sunny and warm, this hike was like hiking in the rainforest. It was not sunny, but extremely humid. For me, this hike was more strenuous. We basically climbed over rocks for about a mile straight up. We knew that we would see a waterfall, but I was expecting something a little more dramatic.

I didn't wear shoes that were conducive to hiking. Little white shoes from Walmart that cost $5.00 get ruined quickly in such a wet, muddy environment. And it made it slickery (that's my word for it). By the time I got to the top, I looked as if I had just stepped out of the shower.

Next trip, Pearl Harbor.